U.S. President Joe Biden officially announces re-election bid
U.S. President Joe Biden officially announced on Tuesday that he is running for re-election, asking voters to help him “finish the job” he started in his first term while drawing a contrast to Republican politicians he said are clawing back the rights of Americans.
Biden had previously said he intends to be the Democratic candidate in 2024 but was waiting to make a formal announcement. The announcement came in a three-minute video that also prominently featured Vice-President Kamala Harris.
Biden was already the oldest U.S. president in history when inaugurated in January 2021. At the end of a second presidential term, if realized, he would be 86 years old.
Biden, speaking over brief video clips and photographs of key moments in his presidency, snapshots of a diverse array of Americans and flashes of his outspoken Republican foes, including Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, exhorted supporters that “this is our moment” to “defend democracy. Stand up for our personal freedoms. Stand up for the right to vote and our civil rights.”
“Freedom. Personal freedom is fundamental to who we are as Americans. There’s nothing more important. Nothing more sacred,” Biden said in the launch video, which painted the Republican Party as extremists trying to roll back access to abortion, cut Social Security, limit voting rights and ban books they disagree with.
“Around the country, MAGA extremists are lining up to take those bedrock freedoms away.”
Legislative wins slowing
Biden’s approval ratings in polling have often been barely above predecessor Trump’s historically low levels, reflecting a polarized country and concerns about economic conditions, primarily inflation. But some historians and political scientists have given Biden credit for what he was able to accomplish legislatively in the first two years of his presidency.
“What he’s gotten [done] is, in my opinion, significant,” James Thurber, author and founder of American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, told CBC’s Alex Panetta in late 2022.
Biden spent his first two years as president shoring up coronavirus pandemic protections, which helped the U.S. significantly lower child poverty rates. He also pushed through major bills such as the bipartisan infrastructure package and legislation to promote high-tech manufacturing and climate measures, while signing into law the first federal gun control measures in two decades.
With the Republicans gaining control of the House in the 2022 midterms, that legislative pace is slowing, though Biden can still enact executive orders.
Biden’s re-election bid comes as the nation weathers uncertain economic crosscurrents. Inflation is ticking down after hitting the highest rate in a generation, driving up the price of goods and services, but unemployment is at a 50-year low, and the economy is showing signs of resilience despite Federal Reserve interest rate hikes.
Leading Western support for Ukraine
On the foreign policy front, Biden has been credited for leading an international response to provide military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine after Russia invaded the country in February 2022, but the White House will face the challenge of maintaining public enthusiasm for the effort. Some Republicans in Congress have also questioned the amount of support for Ukraine.
But there have been failures as well.
Biden took his biggest hit in approval ratings during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan after a 20-year military presence. Chaotic scenes of Afghans trying to depart from Kabul airport were broadcast, with suicide bombers and gunmen striking nearby on Aug. 26, 2021, killing 13 U.S. service members and about 160 Afghans. A retaliatory missile strike by the U.S. killed mostly civilians, including children.
Biden and administration officials argued a Taliban takeover was not inevitable after the U.S. departure, an assessment quickly proven to be spectacularly wrong.
In addition, tensions between the U.S. and China have remained high throughout Biden’s first term due to a number of conflicts.
The Biden White House announced earlier this year it would end the COVID-19 public health emergency next month. That is expected to lead to significant challenges at the southern border, where many migrants have been held back from accessing the asylum process due to the pandemic-related Title 42 health restrictions.
Challenging campaign ahead
Biden was largely spared the rigours of a traditional campaign in 2020 when a pandemic was declared in March of that year due to COVID-19. He held a series of video addresses and town halls from his Delaware residence.
Both the president and his wife, Jill Biden, have brushed off concerns about his age. During a routine physical in February, his physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, declared him “healthy, vigorous” and “fit” to handle his White House responsibilities.
Biden defeated Trump in the 2020 election in his third bid for president, after failed campaigns in 1988 and 2008. That bid was announced exactly five years ago from Tuesday and was motivated, Biden said, by Trump’s less-than-forceful denunciation of white supremacists who had marched at a Virginia rally.
The country still continues to experience the after-effects of the 45th president’s refusal to accept that election loss. The U.S. Justice Department, through a special counsel, is examining Trump’s role in trying to reverse Biden’s win in the 2020 election aftermath, while dozens of Americans were criminally charged as a result of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol over the transition from Trump to Biden.
So far, two long-shot presidential bids have been announced from within the Democratic Party to challenge Biden — by author Marianne Williamson as well as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the COVID-19 vaccine skeptic and nephew of former president John F. Kennedy.
Trump, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy have announced their Republican candidacies.
In addition to the presidency, all seats in the House of Representatives and 33 Senate seats are up for election on Nov. 5, 2024. The Democrats have an extremely tough challenge in regaining control of the Senate, as they currently hold 20 of the 33 seats up for re-election.